Back to School Edition: Things I Am Loving Right Now

Aug 7

We’re officially down to our last week of summer vacation. One week from today, the kids are back to school and I’m back to a consistent work schedule. Sad to see leave behind these carefree days, but excited about a fresh school year with all the potential ahead for these guys…and open blocks of time to dig into incredible organizing projects that have been on hold for a few weeks.

You’ll never find someone more excited about getting back to work than this girl.

This goes without saying because I’m certain you relate and it’s all your hearing…but back to school season is the perfect time to recalibrate and organize. Everything. Meal plans, calendars, schedules, after school activities, your planners, setting up a homework station, decluttering clothes to make room for new, even getting a haircut…the list never ends. I’ve taken the kids to purchase school supplies, uniforms, backpacks, school shoes…and found a little time in the office to get myself ready too. Feels great!

In the spirit of BTS season, today I’m sharing a few things I am loving at the moment…


For the last several years, when a new month rolls around I search the web for free calendar images to use as my desktop wallpaper – for my desktop and laptop computers. I love updating it each month and generally find one that’s simple and pretty. Having a calendar on the desktop is useful too. Anyway, it’s a simple pleasure I’ve enjoyed and wanted to share the idea. This month I found freebies from The Every Girl and fell in love with the background photo. Dreaming of the day I can escape to Europe! Isn’t this beautiful??!!…

They are also offering inspirational August tech freebies like this one – which I completely relate to!…

( via )


No surprise I have a thing for planners. Over the years I’ve shared the details of my annual planners when a new one rolls around. My planners run from July – July or July to the following December (18 months)…so you won’t see me sharing a new planner in January. Personally, I love kicking off a new planner in July (as opposed to the new year) because the summer is coming to a close and a new school year is beginning. There are new dates to stay on top of and it always felt like a natural fit / something that gets me excited for the rest of the year.

And who doesn’t love a blank slate anyway? I love a crisp new planner!

I should share a post about how I’ve transitioned to a digital calendar for specific calendaring items…and the reasons I’ve stuck with a paper planner for everything else. But let me know if that’s something you’re interested in reading.

My new planner is a Day Designer

I love this one because of the strategic and smart layout…

For business I need an hourly layout, not a format of big open blocks each day. Love this hourly breakdown on the left side of the page.

I have long lived by the idea of getting 3 things done each day and this planner has a small section for that, as well as other to-do’s you can list below your daily top 3. There’s a note section and the gratitude block is perfect for reflection.

Even the weekend pages are awesome!…

The pages are wide giving you plenty of room to write and rest your hand.

I removed several pages from the front of the planner to make for a cleaner, simplified look…

Don’t get me wrong, still love Erin Condren planners, this one just offers more writing space. The only feature that would make this planner absolutely perfect in my eyes is the pages being in a binder…not spiral bound. I prefer removing the page to write on it. A spiral binding makes it tough to write near the edge – if that makes sense.

I also purchased the EC LifePlanner Binder for this very reason and am using it for goals / personal items…

Only issue, as you can see, with this one is the lack of space on each page. Again, if we could bundle the Day Designer into a binder format – we’d hear angels sing. Mean it.

Anyway, loving these new planners and feel motivated in ways I can’t describe. It’s inspiring new blog content – this post being proof of that! I found the Day Designer at Target, but you can find it on Amazon too.


This girl. I’m telling you – it’s the simple things that make me happy.

All of my measurements and design work are done on graph paper. Forever I’ve been using standard notebook style graph paper and similar to the center spiral bound issue I mentioned above, the fold in the notebook makes it tough with hand placement on the page. (By the way, I am the only person who struggles with this random issue?? Maybe I have big hands.) But I recently discovered a top spiral bound notebook and couldn’t be more excited!…

Grabbed this one at Target but you can find similar here on Amazon.


Are you sick of hearing about the return of my favorite candle? Ok good…because we’re chatting about it again!

While out shopping a couple weekends ago I found it back on the shelves of our local Anthropologie. Excited to see the updated jar style – last year wasn’t my favorite. Each year they change the look and this is truly one of my favorite so far. Well done, Anthro!

This candle brings me so much happiness. I’ve been slowly burning this baby in the office and kitchen…I grabbed 2. But you can bet I’ll be stocking up before they disappear again.


Speaking of kitchen, I took these first few weeks to move and get settled…work through getting the kids settled as well…but am now feeling the resurgence of love for home improvement / design. Slowly but surely I will share more about the new house and life updates, but also fill you in on our list of home projects / to-do’s. The kitchen is coming together and already have quite a bit to share…but some edits are required, for example – we need to replace the kitchen table chairs. They are pretty but not at all comfortable to sit in for long periods of time. We know the kids will end up here doing homework so getting these squared away soon is a priority.

The window bench is complete and so beautiful – love love it! We love the 2 chairs in the sitting area and the counter stools are great. But the built-in shelving on either side of the window and the wall above the mantle sitting empty…those are items I want to pull together before upcoming holidays and parties we’re hosting…

All that said, we are in love with the new house and our life here. There’s definite moments of missing the old house, but because I’ve been in frequent contact with the new owners…their love of the house and how happy they seem was the final chapter of that book for me. Emotionally speaking. Happy for them and love how much they love it…that has allowed my heart to move on to this new home / new chapter and begin investing myself here.

A few upcoming projects you’ll begin to see unfold = the dining room, home office, a powder room…maybe some exterior updates.

To begin…15 year old drapes came down in the dining room last weekend. I shared a sneak peek with the IG community…


In the office I have a few new obsessions. First up my new inbox / action items tray

The desktop is built into this space and it’s a beautiful white / gray marble. My previous inbox was a dark wood finish which is too heavy with everything else going on in here – this small update keeps the desk light and airy…

( tray )

Also loving the organized desk drawers…

( dividers )

These are the same organizers from my previous desk. Magically they fit just as well in this space. Matter of fact, no matter the space these are magic. Last week we used them in a client’s new bathroom vanity…stunning!…

My scanner continues to make life simpler and less cluttered – we all could use more of that! I am really into getting paper scanned and organized digitally and I PROMISE there will be a series on this topic soon! It is a simple process and something you shouldn’t shy away from for fear of getting it wrong or feeling it’s too complicated. It’s easy! Trust me, if it wasn’t easy I wouldn’t be such an advocate!

( scanner )


You guys know my love for the gym. It’s where I go for mental health and more. The move, kids home for summer and crazy schedules the last few months kept me from getting in workouts as frequently as I’d like. As of next week that will change – yay! But in the meantime and desperate for something else to motivate me, I tried going back to my trusted BBG workouts…but was feeling *blah* doing them. You know how that goes – sometimes you need new motivation. I searched around and discovered the Brooke Burke Body app and have all new motivation!

Her workouts are fun and effective and target muscles I didn’t focus on before. Interesting and different moves. It’s a small investment of about $10 each month but am definitely using that whole $10. I bring my phone to the gym or complete them at home. I’m doing her 2019 Summer Slim Down program right now. Try it!

And can we talk about how gorgeous this woman is?? She’ s an inspiration that anyone at any age can be healthy and beautiful! Look at this body!!…major goals here!…

She’s inspired me in new ways at the gym. Definitely loving this one!


This post wouldn’t be complete without adding how much I love my life and the people in it. Are there still daily issues, bumps, fears, sleepless nights, stress, financial strains and frustrations? Absolutely. Life is never going to be perfect – but that’s what makes it great and full. No matter how complicated.

My life is different now – the same yet different…but definitely better.

My heart is full…never thought I could or would ever be this happy.

Sharing a few home photos / improvement plans today reminds me I need to update where I stand emotionally, where we moved (not a rental home as I had planned), introducing you to someone and being a little more vulnerable about sharing that personal side. I’m still not totally sure how much I’ll share – about the people and the new house. I need to get a feel for how everyone living here feels. But I do want to bring you into the loop and at least let you know what the heck is going on – even if it’s broad strokes. It will help when I’m writing about a home project or going away for a weekend that when I mention people or projects or personal things or otherwise – you’re connected in some way to understand what in the world I’m talking about.

I’ve kept my private life VERY private. Have I exposed and shared things? Yes, I’ve had to. This wouldn’t be a blog with readers and connections if I hadn’t opened up a little bit. It has to happen. You’ve seen previous homes, improvement projects, I’ve shared business ups and downs, you guys have literally seen this business unfold – from a blog to a full-service organization firm…but I haven’t been a complete open book out of respect to family and friends. I’ve reminded you and myself = this blog is mine and I started it. No one else asked to be a part of my stories or sharing…so I’ve respected that. But as a blogger / writer, there has to be some exposure for the person on the other end reading….otherwise how will you connect with me? Why would you subscribe? Why continue ready?

Anyway, I’m going to think through and talk with my people about how much is good enough for sharing…they may say “let’s go all in!”. Who knows! But soon I’ll have a life update and some introductions and maybe a mini home tour. Am really looking forward to this because in that same post I will probably share some new topics we’ll be hitting here from time to time.

Hope you guys are having a great week and discovered something new to love as well! I’m off to a master closet today and can’t wait to dig in / escape for a while. Thank you for being here and being so supportive!

Back soon guys!!



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comments +

  1. Jenn Murphy says:

    Nope, you’re not the only one who struggles with spiral bound notebooks! I’m a lefty…the struggle is real! Love the post! Have been keeping up with your blog for awhile now (since before your last move – I think when you lived in Arkansas). Glad to hear things are looking up and can’t wait to read more! Thanks for sharing!

    • Samantha says:

      Hi Jenn!

      Thank you so much for the comment!! And I am SO happy to know I’m not the only one who struggles with those center spiral bounds. They kill me! Glad you liked this post – am aiming to get in here a lot more with more than just the client spaces. Love sharing with you guys and love having you here!!


  2. Ellie says:

    Love your house and am so happy you found such a great place. Thank you for your openness and vulnerability, we all have highs and lows and it is so special that you let us in on some of yours. xo

    • Samantha says:

      Awe, such a sweet comment! Thank you!!!…and SO true! Everyone has the ups and downs and sharing about it all is how we relate and connect…and make relationships stronger.

      Thank you!!


  3. gee dodds says:

    Looking forward to your next blog post! XXX

  4. Ronda Petrin says:

    Sam I so love reading your blog, I have been following you since I discovered you right before the move back to California from Arkansas. I love all of your posts and ideas, and you have definitely turned me into a Container Store Girl.

    I am glad to hear of your new adventures and happiness, and I can’t wait for the new home tour should you decide to share it all!

  5. Julliet says:

    I love the sneak peeks of the house that you’ve shared so far. And, to know that you are happy in the new place. I appreciate how careful and deliberate you are about sharing the more personal side of your life. I’ve enjoyed your blog/posts for a long time, but I’m not much of a commenter (something I’m trying to be better at). I look forward to learning more about the woman behind the blog … and more fabulous organization ideas of course! xo

  6. Tiffany Bush says:

    I’ve followed your blog since you lived in Arkansas, and one of the things I love about your blog still is how I can hear your voice in your writing. I fell your passion for your projects and clients, your love for your family, and desire to make a home. I’d love details, because I’m nosy ;), but think it’s super important to be respectful of others’ privacy. And, you’ve been able to share of yourself the way that you have done things all these years, so I feel confident you will find what works for you and yours. Best!

    • Samantha says:


      Such a sweet comment – thank you!!! It really means so much to hear that everything I have set out to do is being felt (in a heartfelt way) on the other end. Because THAT is exactly how I live. And will continue to do so. If anything I’m going to be real – and a little guarded still – but definitely real. I appreciate you following the blog for this long and it’s incredible to read the comments – from readers who have been here a long time…and I love it when people who have been reading a while but never commented come around to saying something. I love it so much! We really have created a positive, uplifting community online – together! And I feel the same way about the IG feed – such great readers and am forever grateful.

      Thank you again for the sweet comment!


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